Back in primary school, I didn’t have many friends. I didn’t have anyone whom I could call my best friend. My parents were worried; they tried to make me realize that it’s important to have friends in life. They thought I would be isolated and lonely. But I was not. I was too young that I couldn’t explain to them that I too had many friends who lived inside books.
As a kid, I enjoyed reading books more than playing with friends. Books were used as an excuse to ditch them as if I was forced to finish reading the books before a deadline. Temporary worlds created reading different books seemed more fascinating than the boring dodge ball games or tic-tac-toe played with other kids.
Looking back, it may seem like story books weren’t helping me much as a kid. I didn’t have many friends. I wasn’t socially fit.
By the time I reached adolescence, I was an overweight couch potato who did nothing, but reading and re-reading the books I owned and borrowed from the school library. When a lesson at school became boring, I made it a habit to hide storybooks inside text books and read them without getting caught. This wasn’t doing me any good either. This didn’t help me in getting good grades. Since I wasn’t disturbing other children and had mastered the art of pretending to listen to the lesson, teachers thought that I am a good student. But, I knew I wasn’t.
Being a book addict made me a failure in making friends; I wasn’t able to meet the expectation of the social norms, to have healthy friendships with other humans. However, I wasn’t worried. I was happy in the utopia I had created.
Miraculously, everything changed, when this same habit which was keeping me away from others became a reason for me to get close to people, to make friends. It wasn’t only me. There were others who were just like me, lost in the world of books. Their worlds too were special, just as special as my world was special for me.
It could be the maturity which comes with age, it seemed like a good idea to open the doors of my world to others. Letting other readers in my world was even more amazing than stashing the stories which I have read. It was surprising that others who read the same book could give a different interpretation to it, picking up something I have missed. Books I loved were even more startling when it was shared with another reader.
It was a wonderful thing to make friends with people who read. Specifically with people who read the same books. Yet, again after a couple of more years I understood that it’s even more interesting to be friends with people who read or has read different books. They knew what I didn’t know; they could recommend books which I could read. People who were well-read had a lot of stories to share. The way they saw the world was always fresh to me whereas those who didn’t read seemed to see the world through a dull eye.
Wasn’t it reading which changed me from time to time? Wasn’t it the books that taught me how to make friends, to see the meaning in relationships? I wonder. Reading will continue to change me; it will change the way I look at the world. However, I believe reading is what made me who I am today and what will make me a better human in the future.
I will meet many people who read the same books. I make friends with many people who are reading different books. But the books I have read and the books I am yet to read will remain my best friends.